By popping a daily pill, Kiama Downs retiree John Nash is helping researchers discover whether aspirin holds the key to preventing heart attack, stroke, dementia and even some cancers.
Mr Nash, 76, is one of about 100 Illawarra residents who have already signed up for the largest primary-prevention aspirin trial for older people ever undertaken.
The ASPREE (Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly) study is being led by researchers from Monash University in Melbourne and the Berman Centre for Outcomes and Clinical Research in the United States.
It aims to recruit 19,000 healthy, older people in Australia and overseas.
The Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute at the University of Wollongong is hosting the local trial, which hopes to attract a total of 500 participants.
Monash University researchers will travel to Wollongong on Thursday to launch the trial in the Illawarra. It will also involve up to 100 of the region's GPs.
"The new clinical trial location gives us an opportunity to roll out the ASPREE study in the Wollongong area and surrounding regional areas," said Associate Professor Robyn Woods of Monash University.
"The aim is to see whether or not people, once they hit their post-retirement years and in particular 70 and above, should be taking low-dose aspirin to keep them healthy for longer.
Aspirin was used "across the board" for preventing a second heart attack or stroke and was no doubt "a very important medication for secondary prevention".
"We now want to answer the question of whether or not aspirin should be taken for primary prevention - to prevent a first heart attack or first stroke - or whether it has the potential to delay the onset of dementia or even certain cancers."
Prof Woods said the study, which will finish in 2017, was extremely relevant for the health and well-being of Australia's ageing population.
"We know a lot of older people are already taking low-dose aspirin with the view to keeping them healthy for longer," she said.
"The problem is, like all medications, aspirin has adverse effects which relate to bleeding, that can be quite serious.
"We want to determine whether the benefits outweigh the risks - particularly in older people."
Half the participants in the trial take a daily low dose of aspirin, the other half pop a placebo.
Mr Nash doesn't know which he is taking.
What he does know is that he will be helping future generations by taking part.
"If no one takes part in these studies for new developments in health, then we won't get very far," he said.
"I only have to take one pill a day for a period of four to five years and the benefit is that I get regular, free health checks.
"I thought it was a worthwhile thing to do."
To be involved in the study, speak to your local GP or visit aspree.org.